The Importance of the Ozone Layer
What is Ozone
Ozone is made up of 3 oxygen atoms bonded together (O3). Typically oxygen is bonded to another oxygen (O2) because oxygen by itself is very reactive and with nearby oxygen atoms a stable structure can be formed. The ozone (O3) is created by the sun’s ultraviolet radiation reacting with and splitting the oxygen (O2) molecule into separate atoms. The separated atoms, which are very reactive, react with the O2 molecules that haven’t reacted to the sun’s radiation and a new molecule is formed. Ozone is a pale blue color with a rather pungent smell.
What is the Ozone Layer
The Ozone Layer, as the name implies is made up of almost entirely Ozone. About 90% of the earth’s ozone is located in the Stratosphere, the second layer of atmosphere. The concentration of Ozone is very minimal especially compared to the surrounding Oxygen (O2). The final 10% of Ozone is located in the Troposphere, the Layer of atmosphere humans reside in. Ozone in the Troposphere is created by not only Ultraviolet radiation but by the multitude of pollutants in the air. Nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxides as well as various organic compounds are the main pollutants to form Ozone.
Why the Ozone layer is Important
The Ozone layer acts as a sponge or barrier protecting humans, mammals, Insects and all life in-between from the harmful effects of the sun’s ultraviolet Radiation. Ultraviolet radiation ranges from 10 nanometers up to 400 nanometers which is not in the range the human eye can detect. The most harmful radiation to us humans comes in 2 forms. The long wave known as UV-a, and the short wave known as UV-b. Over time these particular waves can adversely affect our immune system, damage our eyes and cause skin cancer
Why the Ozone is Depleting
Man Made Compounds are the main culprits to the ever depleting Ozone Layer. Chlorofluorocarbons, methyl bromide, carbon tetrachloride, and Nitrous Oxide all play a collective part. Chlorofluorocarbons, which were typically used in aerosol cans, refrigerators and even air conditioning units, have since been restricted in their use. Many countries around the world realized the harmful impact of Chlorofluorocarbons on the Ozone layer and have agreed to replace it with another less harmful compound known as Hydrofluorocarbon. Methyl Bromide (Pesticide) is the other big contributor to Ozone depletion because of the element Bromine (Bromide is Bromine Ion). Bromine as well as Chlorine from Chlorofluorocarbons, react with Ozone and strip it of its Oxygen Atom to form a new compound. Over time the Ozone Layer is reduced in size and thickness.
World Leaders recognize the threat this can have on our survival and the survival of every living creature and have taken steps to reduce its depletion. Steps like limiting the use of Chlorofluorocarbon has had a positive impact on reducing the number of Ozone depleting agents in the atmosphere but reports have still indicated we are at risk. As the population continues to grow and as we expand our cities and manufacturing ventures, the risk to our livelihood will only get worse.